VESDICT OX INDIA
It was the tact of the gentleman with the diamond ring that
averted a terrible gaff about these violins.
v You were wondering about the strings? "* He spoke very softly.
* Yes, Why...?'
He held up his hand. *Our religious traditions'.. .and his
voice sank to a whisper, 'do not permit us to use catgut.3
So that was it! The same old story, which has had a thousand
variations in Indian history, from the grease on the cartridges of
the 1857 mutineers to the latest depredations of the sacred cows
in the nearest bazaar. It all seemed strangely remote from pure
These instruments which now confront us are, broadly speakings
the only instruments ever available to Indian musicians. You cau,
see pictures of exactly the same sort of thing in early sixteenth-
century Moghul miniatures. They are, presumably, the best of
their kind. They do not suggest themselves as appropriate for the
expression of any very subtle or delicate emotions.
A programme was handed round. The first item read :
Hindustani Bhorgahi-JIilanaba. Asavari Trilda. Thyagaraja.
The 'trilala' part sounded promising. Who would play it ? A~
hasty glance at the orchestra revealed that there were signs of
great emotion on the part of the first Thumboori player. He was a
very ancient gentleman, who looked as if he ought to have been
in bed hours ago. Perhaps he was going to do the trilala ? He was
certainly going to do something, for he was clearing his throat, and
biting his nails and slithering on his behind in a manner quite
frightening to behold.
A gentle voice broke the silence. It was the Lord Chamberlain.
*They may proceed ?*
* If you please.'
He gave a signal.
Instantly, Bedlam was let loose. So shattering was the onslaught
of sheer noise in, the tiny room that for a few moments it was
'impossible to discern where it was all coming from; one could only
clutch at the arms of the chair, blinking, and trying to locate the
storm-centre of this cyclone of discord. Gradually, as the ear
became attuned to the hullabaloo, it was evident that the main
source of the trouble arose in the throat of the Ancient. He was